The city of Sedona, Arizona, is a popular tourist attraction for one thing. The red sandstone formations as you approach the city from one of the scenic highways will enchant and allure you in a unique way that no words can best describe it. The formation gives off a distinctive hue, giving off a unique orange color when illuminated by the sun. Because it is truly peculiar and picturesque, a lot of people have flocked to the city to see the formations. Scenic drives near the city allow you to catch a glimpse of the formation from a distance and see the unique landscape that best describes the state. Read below for the top scenic drives near Sedona, Arizona.
1. Red Rock Scenic Byway
Red Rock Scenic Byway — otherwise known as State Route 179 — begins at Interstate 17 and ends at State Route 89A in Sedona, Arizona. This is one of the best scenic highways to drive on, if you’re really after the sandstone formations of the city. As a matter of fact, the US Department of Transportation awarded the highway with the All-American Road designation last 2006 for its scenery. To get here, you must take exit 298 at Interstate 17. Driving along the highway, you’ll pass by the Village of Oak Creek, which is a popular destination for tourists and retirees alike. The highway also straddles along Coconino National Forest, so you can stop by and engage in outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling.
2. Oak Creek Canyon
Just south of Flagstaff is Oak Creek Canyon highway, a winding road that will take you on a scenic drive with views that rival the Grand Canyon. It is also the highway to take if you’re looking for a rewarding, short road trip. The highway begins right in Sedona on SR 89, paralleling Oak Creek. In a short while, you’ll be passing the W.W. Midgely Bridge, where you can stop, relax, and view the scenic landscape. You’ll also be passing picnic areas along the way, so keep an eye out if you’re camping for the weekends. The drive ends at Oak Creek Vista, a popular spot where you will be amazed by the contrasting landscapes and towering rock formations.
3. Verde Valley
Your road trip to Sedona, Arizona, is incomplete without paying a visit to Verde Valley. The name literally means “green valley” in Spanish, alluding to the verdant vegetation that contrasts the dry landscape of this area. Verde Valley is an oasis in the desert, providing habitat for wildlife and locals alike. The area is also home to some popular destinations in Arizona, including famous shops, wineries, and hiking trails. You’ll surely feel like you have been transported to rural America here, thanks to numerous small farms and ranches scattered in the area. Some of the favorite tourist spots that you should never miss include Montezuma’s Castle and the historic mining town of Old Jerome.
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4. Dry Creek Scenic Road
Dry Creek Scenic Road came to be when the US Department of Transportation designated it in 1992. The whole route will take you on a journey across Arizona’s diverse landscape, literally. As you pass along the road, notice the pristine evergreen trees growing on the red desert soil. Surely, nothing will beat this colorful scenery. At occasional times, you will also see the flat peaks of the Colorado Plateau. The snow-capped San Francisco Peaks can also be seen from afar. At 10 kilometres (6.5 miles), the scenic road is a short yet rewarding drive to take.
5. Boynton Pass
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Want to explore the local trails of Sedona? No other roads will take you there but Boynton Pass, which is located northwest of the city proper. On this road, you’ll pass by some of the majestic rock formations. You can bring along any type of car here since the road is mostly paved. Be warned, though, that some portions of the road that are not paved and can be muddy during the summer. To begin your journey on this scenic drive, you simply have to turn left after passing a sign on Dry Creek Road. You’ll complete the loop in a couple of hours, driving past scenic canyons and formations such as Boynton Canyon and Chimney Rock. Don’t forget to bring your hiking gear to complete the outdoor experience!
6. Sycamore Canyon Vista
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Sycamore Canyon is second only to the grandeur of the famous Grand Canyon. One of the best routes to see the canyon up close is through the Sycamore Canyon Vista. The route will also take you through Kaibab National Forest and Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area, so make sure to get your cameras ready to snap the majestic attractions ahead. It begins at Garland Prairie Road and dead-ends at a spot where you’ll see the canyon in full view, for a total of 27 miles (43 km). There aren’t as many campgrounds along the way, but you’ll be rewarded with lots of hiking trails instead.
7. Desert Canyon Loop
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
This short scenic drive will take you on a one-of-a-kind journey towards verdant oasis and scenic canyons. Desert Canyon Loop runs through Camp Verde and Village of Oak Creek. Along the way, you’ll pass by small family-owned ranches and off-the-beaten-path Indian ruins. Truly, this is a scenic drive that will remind you of the typical Arizona landscape. For the most part, the road is well-suited for passenger cars, but some parts — including spur roads — can be a little rough. Exploring the backcountry roads can be rewarding, especially as the Montezuma Castle and Well is just near the scenic drive. Campsites are found in Wet Beaver Creek Crossing and West Clear Creek.
8. Grand Canyon Loop
Grand Canyon Loop takes its name from the world-renowned Grand Canyon that attracts thousands — if not millions — of tourists every year. As a matter of fact, the proximity of Sedona makes it a very attractive jump-off point for exploring the popular tourist attraction and its surrounding areas. The drive begins and ends in Flagstaff, Arizona, just as the name suggests. With hundreds of attractions that you’ll pass by, it is no wonder why it is so popular with road warriors. Pay attention to famous natural and man-made attractions such as San Francisco Peaks, Yavapai Point, Wupatki National Monument, and more. But of course, don’t miss out on the views of Grand Canyon, which are viewable from various points along the way.
Enjoy the scenery of Sedona, Arizona
No other words can describe the beauty of the sandstone formations seen in Sedona, Arizona. Luckily, you can experience the feeling of awe by embarking on a road trip to the city. Plan your road trip ahead and choose from one of the scenic drives, so you can have a memorable road trip today!
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